Random Super Bowl musings:- The buildup Ð How big has this game become? Bigger than anything else on television you can name. I was watching the World Poker Tour on NBC more than an hour before the game. In one corner of the screen was a 'Countdown to kickoff' clock, ticking down the seconds till the start. On another network! I can't imagine any other programming that big. É Am I the only one who misses the pre-game individual player introductions?

The game Ð It turned out a lot better than we thought. But just because it was close at the end doesn't mean it was as fun to watch as many of the previous games. I can't remember when so many friends told me they weren't even sure if they'd watch it. É Carolina is a great example of the NFL's overdone parity Ñ a heretofore mediocre team pops to the top and probably will return to obscurity next season. É There's a real good chance people are going to remember the R-rated halftime show a lot longer than the game.

The TV commentators Ð Phil Simms comes up with some real beauties. From calling a guy 'a player nobody knows nothing about' to his assurance that 'I know it's not exciting, but it's kind of fun to watch.' É Greg Gumbel had his moments, too, including in the second quarter when he said something slightly negative about Jake Delhomme, before hastily adding, 'Not that he's been playing poorly.' No, Greg, not at all Ñ at the time he was 1 for 8 for one yard and had a fumble that had led to the first New England touchdown. É Of course, nothing topped screaming Jim Nantz calling it the 'greatest Super Bowl game in history.' I doubt that.

The commercials Ð I was told, right before the kickoff, to 'ask your doctor if a free sample is for you.' The Cialis ad featured a man and woman in matching bathtubs on the edge of a cliff. I don't have the slightest idea what this pill does, but I sincerely hope I don't need it. É Meanwhile, Mike Ditka asked me later to 'take the Levitra challenge.' As near as I could tell, that has something to do with throwing footballs through a tire. É Those tired old Muppets will endorse anything. É Not one CBS promo made me at all interested in any of that network's programs.

The halftime show Ð The NFL did a horrible job of matching the performers to its prime demographic. You think the bulk of pro football fans love Nelly, Justin Timberlake and Kid Rock? Or Janet Jackson? É Nelly grabbed his crotch more often than a baseball player with jock itch. That was nothing compared to Timberlake and Jackson's tasteless little number to end the show, when they flopped Jackson's right breast into America's living rooms. Those Jackson family values are really something, aren't they? É It was a terribly embarrassing halftime show for the NFL, wholly unsuitable for family viewing. It's why everyone should have TiVo.

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